Archaeologists ‘discover source’ of King Solomon’s riches

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An archaeology team digging in Israel’s Timna Valley think they have found out why King Solomon of legendary riches was so wealthy

The Middle East, especially the area that includes Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt is full of ancient artefacts. Much of Israel’s deserts have provided archaeological teams dozens of items from hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. One such find, with Bedouin goat herders discovering a series of manuscripts, happened in the 1940s.

The texts found in Qumran, written on papyrus and parchment, were later named the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were found in 11 caves between 1947 and 1956. The Biblical writings on the scrolls went back as far back as the eighth century BCE.

The Timna Valley is further south than Qumran, deep in the Israeli desert. Archaeological teams have been digging there since 1964.

Starting from the mid-1960s, researchers who have been working there “have discovered a network of mines, believed to have been worked by slaves under King Solomon, explored in the Smithsonian Channel‘s documentary, ‘Secrets: King Solomon’s Mines,’” the Express writes.

The Smithsonian Channel documentary said that archaeologists “might have discovered” the source of King Solomon’s legendary riches.

Tel Aviv University’s professor Erez Ben-Yosef has figured that 3,000 years ago, during Solomon’s rule, production at the site was thriving.

Contrary to what one would expect, however, the mines are not filled with gold or silver, but copper. Ben-Yosef points to indications around the site that suggest mass copper production.

Displaying a piece of black rock in his hands, Ben-Yousef says “All of the black material is slag, it’s waste from the furnaces.

“This is very important evidence for the ancient copper production in Timna.”

The significance of the find is that it shows copper was available as a most in-demand commodity in ancient times. Nowadays it is a common commodity but at the time it was not.

Prof Ben-Yosef goes on to say: “Copper, at this particular time in history, was the most important economic resource.

“This was the most lucrative industry.”

Timna Valley is located in the south of Israel, about 30 kilometres north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the city of Eilat.
Timna Valley is located in the south of Israel, about 30 kilometres north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the city of Eilat.
(Google Maps)

According to Dr Mohammad Najjar, from Friends of Archaeology of Jordan, copper 3,000 years ago was what crude oil is now, an unsubstitutable and valuable commodity.

He says: “Because you cannot do without oil, and at that time you couldn’t do without copper.”

The Express points out that copper “was at the heart of a radical turning point in human history.” For the first time, people were “extracting metals from rock and turning them into tools and weapons.”

Najjar calls the moment a “quantum leap” as humans started to manufacture their own materials. Copper was the first metal to be worked by humans, according to Thought Co.

Najjar has studied ancient copper processes, according to the Express, and showed the Smithsonian documentary how King Solomon’s men would have worked the natural copper found in the caves.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies